Air pollution hotspots across southwestern Asia sensed by our Aura satellite last week.
Cold winter weather and burgeoning industrial economies have made for difficult breathing in Asia and the Middle East this January. News reports from Ankara, Tehran, Beijing, and other cities have described hazy skies with very low visibility; restrictions on driving, factory operations, and outdoor activity; and hospitals full of people with lung ailments. The map above shows the concentration of nitrogen dioxide (NO2 ) in the atmosphere above southwestern Asia from January 1–8, 2013. Shades of orange reflect the relative abundance of NO2 , while grays show areas without usable data (cloud cover, for instance). The data were acquired by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite. OMI measures the visible and ultraviolet light scattered and absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere and surface. The presence of NO2 causes certain wavelengths of light to be absorbed...